How to Figure What Your Jewelry is WORTH


Some people think that appraisals are meaningless and it is just an inflated price to make you feel like you got your money’s worth.


A lot of times, if you are getting jewelry from a dealer that is unethical, then they inflate the price to look like you got a deal or maybe it is the actual value of what they said you were getting (but didn't actually get)


That is why it is so important to get an appraisal by an independent, ethical, unbiased professional who takes the time to examine the piece and ask you more information so that the actual replacement value is realistic.


What is considered in an Appraisal for Insurance?


As a professional GIA gemologist and appraiser, I look at the following to figure what your jewelry is worth:

1. How the jewelry is Manufactured: Cast, hand made, hand assembled, mass produced.

  • Cast pieces are typically valued for the weight and fineness of gold, plus a mark-up. If it is custom and one of a kind, then it will be valued higher to replace. If it is mass produced and there are many of this style, then it will be valed at normal mark-ups for your area.

  • Handmade and hand assembled will cost more than something that a machine mass produces.

  • Mass produced, usually the quality and attention to details are lower, the stones are typically commercial quality and not set as well. Therefore, the values for stones and labor are less.

2. Who made it: High End designer, local manufacturer or jeweler, oversees manufacturer.

  • For Designer pieces, you pay a lot more for the brand and the status of wearing it. And since you can only replace it with the same designer, that will dictate the value.

  • A trustworthy local jeweler usually charges the appropriate mark-ups which also covers their overhead.

  • Oversees manufactured jewelry is usually a little cheaper due to lower labor costs and mass manufacturing.

3. Weight and fineness of metal (14k, 18k, etc).

  • The more gold you have in the piece or platinum, the more it will be. Each fineness will have a particular value from the market the day it is appraised.

  • That value is multiplied by how much the piece of jewelry weighs in grams or pennyweights.

A lot of times chains or other jewelry types are hollow, so it may look like it is more than it is worth. So if you get the actual weight (minus approximate weight of any stones), then you will have a realistic replacement value.


4. Weight and quality of diamonds/gemstones.

  • Each diamond and gemstone is measured to approximate the weight, then added to get a total. Most of the time, the weight is close to reality, but there are some setting types that prevent your appraiser from certain measurements.

  • The quality is usually listed as a range of color and clarity because this again is limited to how it is mounted and the color of metal the stone(s) are mounted in.

  • The value will be different for different size stones within the quality stated.

5. Labor: Setting fees, Jeweler fees, Polishing fees.

This is something a lot of people do not even think about when they buy a piece of jewelry.

  • Some setters charge a fee per stone, some get a flat fee, and oversees they charge much less.

  • If the piece has a lot of hand made parts or assembly, then a price for time must be added.

  • And of course you want your jewelry to be bright and shiny, so the time to polish and finish the piece must be added.

6. How easily you can replicate or replace the design

  • Some designers have a model number you can re-order, then the value is what they charge to replace.

  • Some items may be discontinued, then you can replace with something similar that is already made.

  • Or if you want an exact duplication, these days, with technology like CAD (computer aided drawing) programs, you can get your piece recreated from pictures. Or if you lost one earring, the other can be replicated. Then there are extra fees to consider: the CAD designer and CAD printing.

7. Cost of stones of similar measurements, cutting style, cut grade and if certified (adds value).

  • For large center stones, the ideal scenario is to replace it with something very close to what you had.

  • Sometimes, there may not be a stone on the market that exactly matches, so the value may be a little more for this harder to find stone. Or, the value may be a little more to replace with a better cut or quality.

8. Where you typically shop. Tiffany, Local Jeweler, Online, Cruise ship or Travel destination

  • A designer that is a brand or has one-of-a-kind pieces can put any price they want when they sell it. As a buyer, you are agreeing to that price.

  • Jewelry retail chains and family jewelers in different parts of the country will have different mark-ups.

  • If you shop online or bought it on a trip or cruise, then the replacement cost needs to reflect that.


People ask me ALLLLL the time after an appraisal… Can I sell it for that price?

So if you read all the items above, you see all the things that go into the value for your jewelry to be insured.


The insurance appraisal is to make you whole by replacing the item with the same or similar item.


When you sell Your jewelry or Inherited Jewelry, the amount you get can vary greatly depending on

  • Who you are selling it to

  • The market

  • A lot less factors than when you bought it.

So what are these factors?


What is considered when you sell a jewelry item to a Jewelry store

  • Salability is number 1- how easily can that piece sell to their clientele.

  • Condition and style: If it is broken or very worn or a style that is not salable, then most likely you will just get the scrap value for it. If it is an older style, but still salable, you will get slightly less than wholesale.

  • Center Diamond: Jewelers look at shape—the top shapes are round and oval right now. So you will get slightly lower than wholesale. For other shapes, they will be largely discounted, especially marquise.

  • Size: Is it large enough for an engagement ring? If yes, you will get more than stones 0.20 ct to 0.50ct.

  • Quality: This, again, depends on typical clientele. Sometimes if the quality is too high, some jewelers won’t be able to sell it quickly because they are much more expensive, then they may offer a lower than usual price.

Usually center diamonds G-I, VS2- SI2 are a good sweet spot because they are the most salable.

If certified- this is important because you have an independent lab that weighed and graded your stone loose, so the jeweler will go by that information istead of approximating the weight, Color and Clarity.

  • Colored stones: It really depends on the store, but usually you get nothing or the weight can even be deducted. With fine colored gemstones like sapphire, ruby or emerald, it would be best to consider an auction.

  • Small diamonds: The price will depend on if the piece is being bought at scrap value or kept whole. For Scrap value you will get nothing to 75% off wholesale. For the whole piece- 25%- 50% below wholesale.

  • Designer pieces: The value depends on how popular it still is and if that store typically sells designer. A lot of times, auction or private sale is best to get the most value.

  • Handmade: When you buy it, you pay more for the time and design, but it is not considered when you sell it.

So basically the amount you can expect to get if you sell it to a jeweler would be 1/3 to ¼ of the appraised value.


The appraisal is important for selling, especially if you want to sell it privately, then both you and the buyer know exactly what is being sold.


If you are selling it privately you can ask for 50% to 70% of the appraised value.


The Best Option for old style jewelry with diamonds or gemstones is to Transform it into a custom made piece just for you.


Since you are not getting any money for the diamonds or gemstones, you should use it to create a new piece of jewelry you wuld love to wear..Plus, the scrap metal is deducted from the cost of the new piece. That is a Win, Win!!



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